Michiru’s Mindful Design

Michiru Cohen (Ascham Old Girl 2005) established her architectural practice in 2017, after working for Koichi Takada Architects (KTA) for almost a decade. She recently merged her business to create Michiru Higginbotham Pty Ltd where the emphasis is placed on the delivery of beautiful and peaceful spaces that are carefully created, mindfully oriented and resource conscious.

Michiru was born and raised in Japan. She and her sister Anri came to Ascham as boarders in Year 6 (1999 for Michiru and 1995 for Anri). Michiru remembers being very lucky to have kind and patient girls in her Boarding House and in class who helped her adjust to her new lifestyle and new language in Australia.

A Year 10 Visual Arts class in architecture and architectural theory inspired her to pursue her career in architecture. It was the study of ancient temples, gothic cathedrals, modern skyscrapers and modernist houses that captivated her as she realised the buildings were being communicated, presented and built by the use of different mediums of art (physical models, technical and perspective drawings). She saw art and architecture as a universal language and potential opportunity to travel and work internationally.

Michiru loved seeing the history of Ascham through the mixed collection of traditional and modern buildings. Her favourite building was Glenrock—she was in awe of the detailing and the intricacy of the metal work.

After graduating from Ascham in 2005, Michiru studied a Bachelor of Design in Architecture followed by a Master of Architecture at the University of Sydney. In between degrees she worked in Tokyo, where she experienced the working culture of the Japanese architectural world and travelled within Japan and China exploring the different types of architecture. Her top place to visit was the Imperial Palace and its gardens—it transported her from the concrete landscape of Tokyo to the lush green paradise where she could rejuvenate.

Michiru’s greatest inspiration is traditional Japanese architecture. The thinking is quite modern—movable doors and partitions were used to create flexibility in configuration of rooms for different occasions. The sensibility in planning, connection to the garden/courtyards and to natural light influences her approach to spatial planning. The craftsmanship of traditional timber Japanese architecture has influenced her use of a natural material palette and neutral finishes in both interior and exterior architecture.

Michiru’s favourite piece of architecture is Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright—piece that symbolizes the harmony between people and nature, through thoughtful design that is seamlessly integrated with the natural setting.

Pictured left: Michiru Cohen 

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